Use the star system

Milk marketer extraordinaire Nicole Dubé is at it again, taking seemingly 'brandless' milk and making it part of Quebec pop culture. Dubé has leveraged existing cultural cues by tapping into Quebecers' affinity for gathering around the tube for must-see shows and for supporting local talent.

Milk marketer extraordinaire Nicole Dubé is at it again, taking seemingly ‘brandless’ milk and making it part of Quebec pop culture. Dubé has leveraged existing cultural cues by tapping into Quebecers’ affinity for gathering around the tube for must-see shows and for supporting local talent.

The most recent coup for the Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec’s director of marketing involved a one-month partnership with pubcaster Société Radio-Canada and its extremely popular Sunday night programming, which generates about three million viewers across the province.

Over the month of March, hosts of Sunday shows like Tout le monde en parle and Decouverte mentioned the widely popular milk tagline (‘Une verre de lait c’est bien mais deux c’est mieux’) at the beginning of programming followed by contest details offering a chance to win $5,000 or a big-screen TV on SRC’s Web site. All told, the effort resulted in an impressive 50,000 entries, helped build the milk board’s database and spiked awareness. ‘People said: ‘Nicole, we felt like you bought Sunday night,” she says with a laugh.

Dubé is no stranger to doing things differently. When the ‘Deux c’est mieux’ campaign, created by Montreal’s BBDO, was launched in September 2003, it was an immediate hit. The universal peace sign in the print ads and TV spots along with the catchy song caused a furor not only among the 18-35 target, but the entire population and successfully pushed the milk board’s

message away from awareness to increased consumption. (The peace sign illustrates

two, get it?)

But things went really nuts last November when, based on the popularity of the TV commercials and thousands of e-mails Dubé received inquiring about the artist behind the song, she asked then unknown Quebec musician Paul Maco to add words to his music and okayed his request to produce a video which follows a lonely glass of milk (a man in a milk suit) moving through a world of couples. That is, until he winds up in the cookie aisle of a supermarket and meets his female counterpart. Today, the song is in rotation on the province’s radio stations and the video is being broadcast on MusiquePlus.

‘We love our own people and this is what makes this kind of campaign possible here,’ says Martin Beauvais, CD at BBDO to explain why this campaign worked so well in Quebec. ‘I don’t think I would ever do something like this in the rest of Canada. We love Quebec musicians; we love to see them succeed and launching a new, fresh artist is what I think made the whole thing work. [Moreover], knowing a big organization is spending money behind Maco made the [milk board] more likable.’

In another move to keep it fresh, Dubé gave the go-ahead for the milk creative on more than 500 billboards across the province to change at the beginning of every month. So, a snowman in January, Cupid in February and so on, all flashing the peace sign. Beauvais says they hope to do 12, which could then be used for a milk calendar.

Naturally, brand awareness is through the roof, almost 90% Dubé reveals. And the campaign’s tagline has trickled into day-to-day life often heard in conversations and occasionally showing up in newspaper headlines. And the best part of all this commotion? ‘Would you believe we still have a 3% overall increase per year?’ she says. ‘It’s completely unusual for milk.’ In fact, according to the most recent ACNielsen study, milk consumption is down in every other province except for those in the Maritimes, where it is only up 1.9%.